Do you dread those business breakfasts where you have to put on your best suit, best smile, walk into a room where there is no one you know, and then try to make conversation without being pushy?
Is that the way business networking plays out in your head?
Or do you see it more as a way to make new relationships with people who may or may not want to buy from you themselves but will ultimately be able to connect you with others who want what you have?
Does it have to be a stressful experience? No, it doesn’t and here are three ideas to help you make business networking work for your business.
Before you go to an event, make sure your LinkedIn profile as well as any other social media profile is updated and looks good. In this day and age, people tend to do searches on other business owners before embarking on any business dealings with them. We all want to feel a sense of security that the person we are connecting with and doing business with knows their stuff.
Make sure that your social media profiles play a role in helping people like and trust you. And if you do not have any presence at all, create one now and stop assuming you can get away without it. There is nothing so frustrating as being unable to discover things about another person. I know it sounds horrid to have your privacy on display, but this is the world we now live in.
You can opt out if you so choose but it just makes life a little more difficult for you (and it is only going to get worse). Instead of hiding away, you can decide what you want people to know about you. Manage your reputation and present a polished exterior to the world.
2. You Can Network in the Online World
Sometimes, when people start a business and try to create an online presence, they think that the online space is different from the offline world. They treat people like numbers and call them things like traffic. They forget that it is a real person they are talking about. Do not be that person.
You can network with other people online and never, ever forget that they are people, just like you do with needs, desires, and fears. They do not want to be treated like cattle.
Do your business networking both online and offline and make the most of your time by building relationships everywhere. Pop into social media groups, answer questions, make invitations when appropriate, and ultimately, grow relationships.
3. Be Confident
People do think that you become confident by learning all about confidence and not doing anything until it happens. No, that is one sure fire way to keep your lack of self-belief.
Instead, choose to step into the unknown world of networking with gusto and a determination to succeed at it. Your confidence is something you put on, not something you wait for. You have to choose to be confident.
Have a goal in mind whenever you start networking both online and offline. Make it a goal that makes you feel like you have helped a certain number of people. Imagine, going into a social media group with the intention of supporting 10 people and answering their questions. That is so much more freeing than a goal of pushing your product on 10 people in a group.
Or take it offline, and do the same thing. Make it a goal to make friends with 10 people and connect with them on social media. Do not make it a goal to collect 10 business cards. That makes it mean nothing, and you will not have the internal incentive to do what it takes because you will feel mercenary. Always put the people first in your mind and your confidence will grow.